By David Tulis
We often say that state actors who violate your rights are acting under color of law. Well, what is the color of law? Short answer: Blue and silver.
When a police officer, FBI agent, regulator, surveillance tech, securities investigator, bean counter or codes enforcer acts outside his authority, it is fair to say he is acting apart from his blue uniform. He wears a uniform to suggest superiority, authority and officialdom. We may not be happy at the police and regulatory state that surrounds us, but as long as we know what the rules are, we can survive being accosted.
The problem arises when an official springs an encounter on us outside the scope of the statute, ordinance, regulation or agency authority that he pretends to be enforcing.
In that case, the state actor (as a Caucasian, let’s pretend) is pale and white. He is making his demands — assailing us — in his natural person, in his personal capacity, in his Adam’s costume, not in his agency. He stands apart from gun, badge, uniform and other trappings of authority. He’s not blue, he’s white.
Three cases involving police officers in the Chattanooga area illustrate this point.
➤ A caller identifying himself as Mike Ayers is calling people in Whitfield County in North Georgia and telling them they face arrest for having missed jury duty. He orders them to avoid arrest and pay F$1,500 penalty. (They are to buy three Green Dog cards, load each to the max, and provide him with the access codes to each card.) Private actor, no blue to stand behind.
➤ Red Bank, Tenn., officer Mark Kaylor stands accused of beating motorist Candido Medina-Resendiz while other officers held him down. Mr. Kaylor punched Mr. Medina-Resendiz seven times in the face while his head was pressed against the pavement, his arms behind his back. An internal investigation has cleared Mr. Kaylor, and attorneys Kyle Mothershead and Andrew Free in Nashville are considering a lawsuit for abuse. Public actor, no blue to stand behind.
➤ Hamilton County Deputy Willie Marshay Greer was on duty Jan. 5 in when, according to accusations in two courts, he stopped a woman motorist and forced her to perform oral sex. It was 1 a.m., and she was on Birchwood Pike. Mr. Greer roared after her as she passed Ware Branch market, pulled her over with blue lights flashing. He took her name, went to his car, came back and said she was going to jail. He ordered her out of the car, handcuffed her, saying, “I could let you go, but you’d owe me.” He took off the handcuffs, ordered her to follow him, which she did; at a pulloff on Thatch road she left her car, was handcuffed again, was seated in the patrol car. According to reports, Mr. Greer forced her to a sexual act. He was fired and indicted. Public actor, under color of law. She should have screamed, kicked and fought to avoid any appearance of consent to a rape, but she was cowed by his authority.
Your constitutional rights
We maintain constitutional rights by being belligerent claimants in person, a phrase from an important court case that says essentially that if you do not defend your rights the moment they are threatened, you cannot complain later of having yielded them (U.S. v Johnson, 76 F. Supp 538, 540 ). In other words, if you don’t know you have a right to remain silent in a friendly chat with a police officer, you have yielded your right to be free from self-incrimination. Probably most cases turn on the flapping lips of the defendant who makes an admission, conclusion or concession by rattling his tongue when he should be biting it and remaining a studious and polite silence.
In another context, one of interest to Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, blue is the color of lawfulness and white that of miscreancy. When the state’s interest aligns with the public interest in the weather, the sky is blue. But that alignment is lacking. Instead of clear skies and regular weather, Washington is blotting blue skies with haze laid by hundreds of jet aircraft — pouring forth aluminum nanoparticulates in what is effectively an iron dome, a milky hat on the earth’s pate.
Again, white is lawless, blue is lawful. Some say tattooing the sky as a matter of policy is effectively a crime in progress, with no cop on the beat able to stop it.
Green nowadays is ‘under color of law’
What is the color of law on another important front? Silver vs. green. Silver is money, the Federal Reserve note, our circulating medium of exchange, is not lawful and equitable, intending as it does to bypass a constitutional ban against the states and to give the national government power over credit and currency.
A dollar is 0.77344 troy ounce weight in silver, or a disk of silver 90 percent pure at 412.5 grains. The word dollar is a measurement of weight, a word that says money is substantial and valuable. A dollar bill is supposed to give the holder of the paper note a claim upon the issuer of the note for a real dollar, a coin. But the U.S. allows its commercial creature, the Federal Reserve System, to circulate banknotes that bypass the constitutional ban on any state’s printing and issuing irredeemable circulating currency. What is forbidden to its former masters it allows itself, and thereby defrauds their people. Silver is honest; green is no longer truthful. The green notes in your billfold are under color of law.
Sources: Shelly Bradbury, “Red Bank man beaten by police cries foul; involved officer cleared of wrongdoing,” Chattanooga Times Free Press website, Sept. 23, 2014
“Attorney Claims Police Officer Had 2nd Sex Victim On Same Day As His Arrest,” Chattanoogan.com, March 18, 2014
Tupper Saussy, The Miracle on Main Street (Sewanee, Tenn.: Spencer Judd, 1986), pp. 143, 144
Paul Hein, All Work & No Pay[;] Lifesaving Lessons in Modern Money (Sewanee, Tenn.: Spencer Judd, 1986), p. 83